A day out at Wembley Stadium should be a magic moment for any football supporter.
But this season’s FA Cup semi-finals are in danger of descending into a farce given the circumstances surrounding them.
The Football Association have made the rather bizarre decision to host the games on the Easter weekend, and with planned engineering works on the railways in London it means that supporters of Liverpool and Manchester City will have no direct route to the capital via train.
Rather torturous routes, that would see diversions via Rugby and Milton Keynes, will cost a pretty penny and offer no guarantee that fans will be able to return home that day – hotel accommodation thus only adding to the expense.
Perhaps fearing a backlash, the FA have claimed they are working on a ‘solution’ that would enable City and Reds supporters to travel to London directly.
“The FA will be liaising closely with both Liverpool and Manchester City on all match arrangements, including supporters travel for the upcoming FA Cup semi-final fixture at Wembley Stadium,” a spokesperson for the organisation said.
“We are also continuing to work with both Network Rail and National Express to find a solution so that supporters of both teams are able to travel to and from the fixture with as minimal disruption as possible.”
Supporters groups from both clubs have united to implore the FA to move the semi-final away from Wembley, with Villa Park and the Etihad Stadium considered as possible alternatives.
Liverpool and Manchester City fan groups have issued a joint statement calling for the FA Cup semi final to be moved from Wembley as no trains will be running to London that day. pic.twitter.com/D9aX1yDgpt
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 21, 2022
A Full House
Chelsea meanwhile, who will take on Crystal Palace in the other FA Cup semi-final, have been handed a major boost.
It has been confirmed that they will be allowed to sell out their full ticket allocation at Wembley – meaning that around 30,000 Blues fans will be able to support their team.
As part of the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich, Chelsea are unable to sell matchday tickets and only season ticket holders are allowed to attend games – that meant that just 700 fans saw their quarter-final triumph at Middlesbrough.
However, the FA and government ministers are thought to be talking about a temporary change to the club’s current operating licence, and that could see a full house of Chelsea supporters admitted for the semi-final, which will be played on either April 16 or 17.
Julian Knight, who heads the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said:
“It is ridiculous that we face the prospect of a half-full Wembley for the Chelsea vs Palace FA cup semi-final.
“Chelsea is more than just its owner, it’s a living organism with huge importance to its fans and community. The FA must be allowed to sell tickets to Chelsea fans so long as all money goes to the people of Ukraine.”